Writer Guide 7.6

Chapter 21,
User Interface Variants


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To this edition

Jean Hollis Weber



To previous editions

Jean Hollis Weber

Kees Kriek



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Publication date and software version

Published August 2023. Based on LibreOffice 7.6 Community.
Other versions of LibreOffice may differ in appearance and functionality.

Using LibreOffice on macOS

Some keystrokes and menu items are different on macOS from those used in Windows and Linux. The table below gives some common substitutions for the instructions in this document. For a detailed list, see the application Help.

Windows or Linux

macOS equivalent


Tools > Options
menu selection

LibreOffice > Preferences

Access setup options


Control+click or right-click depending on computer setup

Open a context menu

Ctrl (Control)


Used with other keys


⌥ (Option) or Alt, depending on keyboard

Used with other keys



Open Styles deck in Sidebar


By default, LibreOffice Writer’s commands are grouped in cascading menus and in toolbars filled with icons—the standard user interface described in Chapter 1. These menus and toolbars are described in the chapters that discuss the related tasks and functions.

In addition, Writer provides other user interface variants, displaying contextual groups of commands and contents. This chapter describes these user interface variants and provides a quick reference to the location of the tools and functions when using each of the variants.

Selecting the user interface

When you set up Writer, you can choose one of these user interfaces, and you can switch between them and the standard interface at any time.

1)  Choose View > User Interface on the Menu bar.

2)  On the Select Your Preferred User Interface dialog (Figure 1), choose one of the variants on the left. An example of the variant is shown in the Preview box on the right, along with a short description.

3)  Choose the relevant button to apply your selection to all components of LibreOffice, or only to Writer. The Writer window changes to match your selection.

4)  Click Close to close the dialog.

Figure 1: Selecting a user interface

Selecting a user interface

If you have activated experimental features (Tools > Options > Advanced), more choices may appear on the left-hand side. These choices are not described here.

Standard interfaces

Three of the user interface choices in Figure 1 are described in Chapter 1, Introducing Writer.

Standard Toolbar

Classic mode with two visible toolbars: standard and formatting. The sidebar shows only its tabs.

Single Toolbar

Only one toolbar with frequently used features. The sidebar shows only its Hide button.


The sidebar is fully opened and only one toolbar (Formatting) is showing.

The elements on each of the standard user interfaces can be modified using the View menu on the Menu bar.

Tabbed interface

The Tabbed interface (Figure 2) provides a familiar interface for users coming from proprietary office suites such as Microsoft Office. It includes a Menu bar, an Icon bar, a Tab bar, icons for the active tab, one or more tab-specific menus, and a Quick Menu. On Windows and Linux, the Menu bar can be hidden or displayed by clicking on the Menu Bar icon in the Icon bar (Figure 4).

1 Icon bar 2 Active tab 3 Icons on active tab 4 Tabs 5 Tab menus 6 Quick menu

Tabbed Interface with Menu bar hidden

Figure 2: Tabbed Interface with Menu bar hidden

In Writer, this user interface variant includes nine fixed tabs and five additional tabs. Each tab displays a set of icons grouped by context. The context can change depending on the location of the cursor or the item selected. Each tab also includes one or more tab-specific drop-down menus at the right-hand end. The Quick Menu is the same for all tabs.

The Tabbed interface can be customized using the Notebookbar tab of the Customize dialog to show and hide the individual icons on the various tabs. See Chapter 20, Customizing Writer, for more information.

If the icons on a tab do not fit into the width of the Writer window, >> appears at the end of the row. Click it to display the other commands (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Displaying more commands on a tab

Displaying more commands on a tab

Icon bar

The icon bar (Figure 4) is located at the top left of the tabs.

Figure 4: Icon bar

Icon bar

1 Menu bar – Show / Hide the menu bar.

2 Open (Ctrl+O) – Open a file browser, where you can select the file to be opened.

3 Save (Ctrl+S) – Save the open file.

4 Undo (Ctrl+Z) – Undo the last action performed.

5 Redo (Ctrl+Y) – Redo the last undone action.

6 Print (Ctrl+P) – Open the Print dialog.

Quick menu

At the right-hand end of the tab bar is a Quick menu (Figure 5) containing some commonly used commands and links. Some of the Quick menu items have submenus, indicated by arrows on the right.

Figure 5: Tabbed Interface – Quick menu

Tabbed Interface – Quick menu

Fixed tabs

The fixed tabs in Writer are File, Home, Insert, Layout, References, Review, View, Extension, and Tools. The tabs are described on the following pages. The illustrations show the left and right ends of the tabs separately so they are large enough to more easily see the commands.

File tab

The File tab (Figure 6) includes commands to create new documents; open, save, print, and close documents; manage templates; export to PDF and EPUB; display document properties; add a digital signature; and sign an existing PDF.

Figure 6: Tabbed Interface – File tab

Tabbed Interface – File tab, left end

Tabbed Interface – File tab, right end

The File tab has two menus (Figure 7): File and Help. The File menu contains the same commands as the icons on the tab. The Help menu provides links to a variety of resources.

Figure 7: File tab menus

File tab menus

Home tab

The Home tab (Figure 8) includes commands to cut, copy, paste, and format text; insert common items (image, table, special characters, and page break); apply, update, and edit styles; and others.

Figure 8: Tabbed Interface – Home tab

Tabbed Interface – Home tab, left end

Tabbed Interface – Home tab, right end

The Home menu (Figure 9) provides additional commands that are not on the tab.

Figure 9: Home tab menu

Home tab menu

Insert tab

The Insert tab (Figure 10) includes commands to insert many commonly used items.

Figure 10: Tabbed Interface – Insert tab

Tabbed Interface – Insert tab, left end

Tabbed Interface – Insert tab, right end

The Insert menu (Figure 11) provides some of the same commands.

Figure 11: Insert tab menu

Insert tab menu

Layout tab

The Layout tab (Figure 12) provides commands for working on page layout.

Figure 12: Tabbed Interface – Layout tab

Tabbed Interface – Layout tab, left end

Tabbed Interface – Layout tab, right end

The Layout menu (Figure 13) provides commands for a few of the same items.

Figure 13: Layout tab menu

Layout tab menu

References tab

The References tab (Figure 14) provides commands for working with tables of contents, indexes, footnotes and endnotes, cross-references, bibliographies, and fields.

Figure 14: Tabbed Interface – References tab

Tabbed Interface – References tab, left end

Tabbed Interface – References tab, right end

The References menu (Figure 15) provides many of the same commands.

Figure 15: References tab menu

References tab menu

Review tab

The Review tab (Figure 16) assists in editing. It provides quick access to recording, showing, hiding, and managing changes.

Figure 16: Tabbed Interface – Review tab

Tabbed Interface – Review tab, left end

Tabbed Interface – Review tab, right end

The Review menu (Figure 17) provides many of the same commands.

Figure 17: Review tab menu

Review tab menu

View tab

The View tab (Figure 18) provides commands related to the display of a document on screen.

Figure 18: Tabbed Interface – View tab

Tabbed Interface – View tab, left end

Tabbed Interface – View tab, right end

The View menu (Figure 19) provides many of the same commands.

Figure 19: View tab menu

View tab menu

Extension tab

The Extension tab (Figure 20) contains only the menu for accessing the Extensions dialog.

Figure 20: Tabbed Interface – Extension tab

Tabbed Interface – Extension tab

Tools tab

The Tools tab (Figure 21) provides several tools for macros, mail merge, and form creation.

Figure 21: Tabbed Interface – Tools tab

Tabbed Interface – Tools tab, left end

Tabbed Interface – Tools tab, right end

The Tools menu (Figure 22) provides some of the same commands.

Figure 22: Tools tab menu

Tools tab menu

Additional tabs

Additional tabs appear when an item is selected; they are displayed between the View and Extension tabs. The additional tabs in Writer are Draw, Image, Media, Object, and Table.

Draw tab

The Draw tab (Figure 23) is displayed when a drawing object is selected. It provides commands for captioning and modifying the drawing object and for inserting and modifying Fontwork objects.

Figure 23: Tabbed Interface – Draw tab

Tabbed Interface – Draw tab, left end

Tabbed Interface – Draw tab, right end

The Draw menu (Figure 24) provides a subset of commands, which vary depending on the drawing object.

Figure 24: Draw tab menu examples

Draw tab menu example 1

Draw tab menu example 2

Image tab

The Image tab (Figure 25) provides commands for working with images, including captions, cropping, borders and area styles and colors, anchors, wrapping, positioning, and filtering.

Figure 25: Tabbed Interface – Image tab

Tabbed Interface – Image tab, left end

Tabbed Interface – Image tab, right end

The Image menu (Figure 26) provides links to dialogs for working with images.

Figure 26: Image tab menu

Image tab menu

Media tab

The Media tab (Figure 27) provides commands for positioning and running an audio or video file.

Figure 27: Tabbed Interface – Media tab

Tabbed Interface – Media tab, left end

Tabbed Interface – Media tab, right end

The Media menu (Figure 28) provides some of the same commands

Figure 28: Media tab menu

Media tab menu

Object tab

The Object tab (Figure 29) provides commands to position, resize, link, choose colors and borders for the selected object. The illustration shows the tab when a frame is selected.

Figure 29: Tabbed Interface – Object tab

Tabbed Interface – Object tab, left end

Tabbed Interface – Object tab, right end

The Object menu (Figure 30) provides a few of the same commands. The illustration shows the menu when a frame is selected.

Figure 30: Object tab menu

Object tab menu

Table tab

The Table tab (Figure 31) is opened when the cursor is in a table.

Figure 31: Tabbed Interface – Table tab

Tabbed Interface – Table tab, left end

Tabbed Interface – Table tab, right end

The Table menu (Figure 32) includes some commands not shown on the tab.

Figure 32: Table tab menu

Table tab menu

Tabbed Compact interface

The Tabbed Compact interface has the same tabs as the Tabbed interface, but the commands on each tab are arranged in a single row of icons, many with drop-down menus of choices.

Figure 33: Tabbed Compact interface example: Insert tab

Tabbed Compact interface example: Insert tab, left end

Tabbed Compact interface example: Insert tab, center section

Tabbed Compact interface example: Insert tab, right end

Groupedbar Compact interface

The Groupedbar Compact interface (Figure 34) is divided into groups that contain commands organized as sets of icons and menus.

Figure 34: Groupedbar Compact interface example

Groupedbar Compact interface example, left end

Groupedbar Compact interface example, right end

The Groupedbar menu (Figure 35) provides a subset of commands, including a convenient way to change the user interface.

Figure 35: Groupedbar menu

Groupedbar menu

Contextual Single interface

The Contextual Single interface displays a standard Menu bar and a single toolbar with context-dependent content.